Summary: Isaiah preaches the law to the Israelites who had abused God’s gifts to them in the vineyard.
October 2, 2005 Isaiah 5:1-7
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Isaiah decided to sing a song in today’s text. I don’t know if he had a very good voice or not. I don’t know what kind of a melody it was either. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the words he chose to sing and the message that those words contained. Consider the words to “Ring around a Rosey” for instance.
Ring around a rosey,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
This nursery rhyme is about the bubonic plague known as the Black Death. Medical thought at the time was that flowers or posies would purify the air of its bad diseases. "Ring around a rosey" refers to a pinkish circle that would form on a victims body prior to turning black. "Ashes, ashes" refers to burning those things that belonged to a person that had died of the plague. "We all fall down" relates to what most folk experienced if they fell victim to the bubonic plague — death. So this song sounds kind of cheery - but it’s actually really depressing if you understand the words.
From the looks of it, I would assume that Isaiah’s song didn’t sound like “Here we go round the Roseberry Bush” or “Skip to my Lou”. (Although it might have been somewhat satirical to sing “it’s hedge will be destroyed” and “it will be trampled” to a song like “Skip to My Lou.”) What we’re here to do today is not to debate over what the style of music may have been - but to consider what the words had to say. They talk about the relationship between God and His people - the Israelites.
Listen to the Words of Isaiah’s Vineyard Song
I. The words of effort
The first part of the verse sing about the time and effort that the Lord put into planting His vineyard - the Israelites. My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. It wouldn’t hurt for us to look into the imagery of Isaiah’s song by examining for a moment the picture that he is drawing. A commentator by the name of Young said this of Palestine: